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Thursday, September 29, 2005

When Life Hands You Lemons . . .

Squeeze them, use the juice to fill a Super Soaker, and shoot Life in the eyes.

Well, in keeping with my blind date analogy, my OCI interviews have given me about as much fulfillment as the blind dates in my life have given me.

Two of the three most serious relationships in my life started with a blind date. The rest went no where.

So, if the trend continues, all I need is one good one-- one good firm that will appreciate my dry sense of humor, that won't mind my eclectic taste in music, or the fact that I'm a snob when it comes to the theatre.

One good firm that will appreciate my cooking, will be willing to watch a wide range of movies with me from "Dude, Where's My Car?" to "Reservoir Dogs" and "The Notebook," or that won't be offended by the fact that I have fairly well-developed sense of style when it comes to decorating my office without the firm's help.

One good firm that will let me watch football and make a fool out of myself yelling at the t.v. when the Broncos play, will not get upset when I turn my head to watch another firm walk by, and won't have a problem integrating the fact that I am fully capable of both decorating while watching "The Notebook" on the same day I spend 4 hours drinking beer while watching the Broncos play and drooling everytime the cheerleaders are shown . . .

Someday I'll find this one good firm and I'll be your associate for life.

Well, unless, that is, that firm is friends with another firm who has a summer associate that would be real impressed if the two got together for a little firm-on-firm action and I ended up finding this out from another firm who is jealous of my current employment and wanted to break us up.

But I'm an optimist. I'll assume that isn't going to happen. And if you are faithful to me, I'll be faithful to you.

I realized something yesterday, however. After talking with Dir. Career Services, I realized that I might be compromising my needs, forgetting my values . . .

We'll see how OCI finishes. I've only received 6 letters so far. 6 of 12. I've heard some actually keep you waiting, they tease you-- keep you living with a little hope-- as they jump from summer-hopeful to summer-hopeful, who keep rejecting their advances . . . all the while they have you waiting in the wings, like a fool. Just in case. Until they give you that call in the middle of the night, "Hey, guy, I was thinking 'bout you earlier tonight . . . want to come over?"

Anyway, we'll see how OCI finishes and then I'll share my "realization" with you.

Until then I want to set the record straight: I did not lie to the Red Cross. I actually just didn't answer the phone.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Learning to Say "No"

The Red Cross has called four times in the past 3 days seeking my help as a counselor with the Hurricane Rita evacuees.

Seeing as how I have:

1. A Comment deadline in a week and a half;

2. A mid-term in Commercial Law next week; AND

3. Tutoring this week;

And remembering the lecture from Prof. Research about not over-extending oneself . . .

I couldn't tell them, "no." I mean, they are the Red Cross.

So I just told them I died. Or, in the alternative, I flunked out of law school and moved away.

That was so much easier.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Heart & Soul of New Orleans, Part I

(I have moved "Part II" of this story to show up below "Part I" so that should anyone have the misfortune of stumbling across my babbles . . . they'll be able to follow along a bit easier. --Misery)

The Tuesday night following Labor Day weekend, knowing I had quite a bit of work to do, I felt compelled instead to grab my Bible and head out to the Reese Center where the Katrina Evacuees were being housed.

Upon arriving at the abandoned hangar, their temporary home, I stopped by the central "command post." It was really nothing more than two folding tables set-up in an "L" shape in a corner and peopled by three Red Cross volunteers working from their laptops and cell phones.

Directly across from the "command post" there were two other folding tables placed in a similar manner. They were heavily weighted with packages of snacks, sodas, waters and the like and brigaded with boxes of additional food waiting to be handed out.

Looming above these tables was the office area of the hangar. Standing tall and high in the air, at its height it was walled with glass and in the left-hand window was placed a hand-painted sign reading, "Kid's Play Room."

Chaos immediately confronted me when I entered the hangar. I seemed as if what might have begun in the "Kid's Play Room" now had spilled out in to the entire hangar and the airstrip beyond. Children slammed past me, giggling and playing tag. Adult evacuees walked aimlessly about. Volunteers milled everywhere, attending to the children and adults alike. The mood was a mixture of mirth, business, and boredom.

Unlike my expectations, there was no discernible pain or sorrow anywhere around.

I leaned in across the table at the command post so that my voice could cut through the din of noise around me. And I asked about anyone who might need to talk. With a few names in hand and a general understanding of where I might find them, I tucked my Bible under my arm and walked into the left wing of the hangar.

Queen size air mattress were laid out, row upon row, each marked with masking tape on the concrete floor and labeled by the surnames scribbled in black marker. Small televisions mounted on boxes were scattered about. Here and there a man lay on his mattress, the rabbit-ears on the television positioned just right so that he could catch something decent on t.v. In other areas groups of women were gathered on their mattresses, some around televisions while others not, braiding hair and talking.

Children weaved in and out of the maze of mattresses playing and laughing. Many of them were followed by volunteers with yellow vests. The volunteers laughed and smiled, as well, as they chased the children and hoped to keep up.

At the far end of the left wing stood a row of tables littered with boxes. Each box was labeled: Men's Shirts; Men's Pants; Women's Shirts; Children's Shoes; etc . . . Behind these tables stood a few small, cordoned-off areas that served as dressing-rooms. The volunteers standing nearby were probably the most bored of the group as only a couple takers lingered and shuffled through the boxes of stuff.

I walked down the ramp into the wing and searched around me, Bible proudly-held, and smiled at any whose eyes met mine. No one paid much attention to me and I began to feel the part of the outsider. This was now their home and they'd become one very large family. I was an intruder, or so I felt, and I tried not to appear the part of the voyeur-- only come to watch how they lived.

Instead, for a few seconds, I focused on the playing and laughter of a group of children. They whizzed around me and eventually ended up wrestling on an air matress bordering the central aisle. Two college-age female volunteers finally caught up and gathered around them to make sure no one was hurt by a fall onto the hard, cold floor.

Resuming my search for the names I'd been given at the command post, I went from looking at those around me to scanning the name tags everywhere on the floor. I had no luck, however, as the only surnames matching those I'd been given belonged to empty beds. So I repeated my efforts with the right-wing of the hangar before returning, empty-handed, to the command post at the entrance.

My attention was quickly diverted, however, by the sounds from outside. Not since I had walked the streets of the French Quarter had I heard anything like it.

It would become absolutely evident over the next hour that while these evacuees showed up with very little of their former lives in their arms, they had no problem carrying the soul of New Orleans with them to the dry, dusty plains of West Texas.

Heart & Soul of New Orleans, Part II

As I left the hangar, the first sight to greet me was that of a Lubbock police officer driving a golf cart manned with three small children in the seat beside him. The smile the officer wore may have been bigger than that of the children as he raced around in circles with them by his side. Everyone got in on the act.

The sun had been down for about 15 minutes by this time and it was fairly dark save for the light of the large lamps attached to the outside of the hangar. Still several men and boys, including a couple doctors and officers, were joined in basketball games to the right where goals had been set up. On the fringe of the light, there were a few tossing footballs back and forth. What struck me by the scene outside was its sense of normalcy. No one acted as if anything was out of place. Everyone and everything about this place and this evening belonged.

What attracted my attention, however, was off to my left and that is where I headed. Here there were rows of metal folding chairs set up and facing a small band. The band, presumably of Lubbock, sat together tightly with their instruments-- a man and two women in their 40s. They had invited one of the evacuees to join them and he now played a guitar while singing.

Smokey J. Blues was what he called himself. I later saw him on the local evening news in the context of a story about New Orleanians deciding to make their homes in Lubbock. He proudly announced to the camera, "Watch out. West Texas has a real blues-man now . . ."

Indeed, we do. I would have thought he and the band had been practicing for weeks. He led them through one song and then transitioned seamlessly into "Amazing Grace." Actually, I had my suspicions at first, whether they had practiced. But as the evening wore on, and more and more of the evacuees would take a turn playing/singing with the band, I was convinced otherwise.

I must admit that I had now lost sight of my original reasons for coming out to the Reese Center. I looked around me to find doctors, nurses, volunteers, police officers and many, many evacuees standing around the centerpoint of the music. Those of us who'd not lived a life filled with these sounds were completely silent, motionless, and transfixed by the scene. The evacuees were a bit more vocal and tended to find participation a bit more attractive.

I slowly crept over to the chairs and had a seat to watch Smokey. He was a tall, lean man. He wore an old heather gray t-shirt under some tattered overalls. His outfit was only completed by his old brown boots.

I must have been no older than 10 or 11 when I first heard my uncle play a CD of Robert Johnson. Since that time, the Blues have always had an affect on my soul. If you don't know the story of Robert Johnson, he was portrayed a few years back in the movie, "O, Brother Where Art Thou," by the young black guitarist picked up at the crossroads in Mississippi by the three escapees. The real Robert Johnson is said to have had little skill with the guitar before his meeting the devil. But one night he found himself, at midnight, at the infamous crossroads, trading his soul for the privilege and ability to play the Blues.

Unfortunately for Robert Johnson, while he was great, he did not make much of a name for himself while he was alive. He died in the night, like the playwright Christopher Marlowe, in a bar fight.

When I listen to the Blues, I am constantly reminded of Robert Johnson's story. Here was a man who had sold his soul away and, I believe, it was not so much a gift from Satan but a realization of what he'd done that created the Blues that Robert Johnson was able to weave into song. I hear something similar in the Blues played today. Here are a people of deep religious convictions that grapple with despair, pain, and things that are darkest. And the product, the music, reaches down to the bottom of your soul.

Where can they find such despair mingled with such hope? I have no clue. Despair and hope, for me, are mutually exclusive realities. To see another side, that is why I love the Blues.

As if to punctuate this thought, then, I found myself "counseling" one of the evacuees a short time later. After Smokey had finished playing and wandered off to join the basketball game, I'd gone back to walking the hangar in need of someone that might need me. I again emerged into the warm night air to hear a woman wailing on the microphone. Her wails were punctuated by various "Amen!"s.

Seeing my Bible in my hands, a doctor approached me and leaned in. He told me this woman on the microphone had lost her sister. He believed she could use a little ministry. As the doctor finished telling me this, the woman put down her microphone and hurriedly made her way for the hangar.

Following, I caught up with her inside and pulled her to the side. Sitting on a nearby air mattress, I asked her to tell me her story. It was not, however, as much a story of terrible times as it was a sermon on hope. Her plight was typical of many of the survivors: she and her family had stayed behind only to find themselves atop their roof, an island in a sea of filthy water. They were rescued by a passing boat and taken to Houston. From there they were transferred to San Antonio. From San Antonio to Lubbock, Texas. Her sister never made it out of New Orleans, where she had perished in the flooding waters.

In thinking of this woman now, and for the rest of my life, I believe the most poignant image for me was that of a family walking through the dry area of New Orleans dragging a white sheet behind them. The voice-over of the reporter informs his viewers that the white sheet contains the body of a relative. They are unwilling to leave her behind.

This woman did not have the chance to rescue even her sister's body. And yet she schooled me on the ways of faith, on the reasons for hope, and on what the future could hold. That, right there, is the foundation of the Blues.

I emerged from the hangar again to listen to the music after this encounter to find a small, wiry-looking evacuee with the microphone. She was probably no older than mid-30s but looked and sounded much older. She was so tiny but here voice betrayed her great heart and great amount of faith. For me, her song-- her message-- was a perfect punctuation for the night and I excused myself from the crowd of people as she ended.

Again, she sounded as if she'd rehearsed for weeks for this appearance before us. Perhaps, if you count a lifetime of Sundays, she had. I imagine she'd never dreamed of this, though . . .

And I contemplated this as I walked away with my Bible tucked under my arm, a smile on my face, and listened to her singing:

I lay awake at night
(echoed by others) I lay awake at night
But that's all right
Thaaaat's alright
I know that Jesus
Jesus, He will keep me
My, my, my Jesus
Jesus, He will keep me
Afterwhiiiiiiiile . . .

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The '80s and Oil&Gas

Question: What do the 1980's and Oil & Gas Law have in common?

Answer: Besides being the decade of the last big oil boom in the United States, nothing . . . that I can think of.

But attempting to study for Oil & Gas while listening to the Dixie Cups Iko Iko or the Stray Cats Stray Cat Strut or, even better, the Violent Femmes Blister in the Sun . . .

Well, it makes the studying for this subject all the more exciting--

Except, of course, that I've stumbled through Stewart v. Armerada Hess Corp twice now and am still not sure who leased which mineral rights to who that then assigned those rights to someone else, of whom I am also unsure.

Maybe I should take the headphones off . . .

O, now that'll have to wait until Money for Nothing is over. I can't miss this killer guitar riff, maaaaaaan.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Speed Dating, OCI Style

I've been on several blind dates over the past 10 years.

There were a few where I'd wished I was blind . . .

I'm sure there were at least one or two where she'd wished she was blind . . .

But the one thing you could bet on with every blind date is there was absolutely no recipe on what makes a good blind date and what makes one bad.

Such is the OCI interview.

I have had several mock interviews in the past few months, but none have prepared me for the myriad of personalities and all the meaningless small talk I have made in a 5x5 room over the past week.

And each one was really no more than a blind date.

I come away and I get these same questions:

Questioner: How'd it go?

Misery: I don't know. We talked alot. And laughed. Told stories. She has a beautiful smile and a nice, firm . . .

Questioner: That's good, right?

Misery: I guess. I don't know.

Questioner: What do you mean you "don't know?"

Misery: I mean, I guess I'll have to wait and see if she calls . . .

And I do wait. But just like a blind date, you might be feeling the chemistry. I mean, you get this rush-- this, this-- "oh yeah, I'm digging this firm" type feeling. And you know you feel it. But you ask, you wonder, is she?

And so you watch for the signs.

You make a joke. She laughs. That is a good sign. Right?

She asks a question and the conversation turns to your college days. Nice. But be selective, don't tell too much . . . we're hoping for a long term thing here. Keep her wanting more, y'know? And don't bore her too early. You'll have a lifetime to do that.

You finish the story and there is a momentary pause as she takes a sip of water . . .

To avoid awkwardness, you launch in with a question of your own-- about her life, her work . . . "What is it like being an attorney with so-and-so firm?"

And off you go on more stories. Every one told by every girl nearly identical. But you act interested, you pretend its the first time you've heard about the "wonderful community" and the "great schools . . ."

Wait! Did she just start talking about the "great schools?" That must mean something, right? I mean, we're talking about kids . . . We're talking about starting a family already.

That's cool. I'm down. I'm looking for a long-term committment.

Wait . . . What? The date is over?! But I have so much more I still want to ask, so much more to talk about.

How can you possibly know enough about me at this point to know if you want to see me again?!?

And she leans in across the table. She smiles. I extend my hand and she quickly takes it.

And I wonder:

I felt it. Did she? Is this the signal. Should I lean in? Should I tell her how I feel? Should I do something? What should I do??

But I chicken out. I shake her hand, I give her my winning smile, and I tell her goodnight as she walks me to the door.

And then I wait for the phone call.

It has been a week since the first five. At least one has had the courtesy to at least let me know she isn't interested.

The rest? No phone call.

Is she just playing hard to get? Should I call her? Maybe I should send her flowers? A card? Maybe the first "thank you" didn't get to her. Maybe I should send another.

And a few more days and I panic--

Misery's Mom: What's wrong?

Misery: Why hasn't she called yet? I just really thought we hit it off.

Misery's Mom: Just give it some more time.

Misery: But I can't wait. Others are getting phone calls. Why aren't I? What is it? Why isn't she calling me back? Was it my conversation? Was I not funny enough? Were my stories stale?? Maybe I need new stories . . . Yes, probably that's it. New stories. No, no . . . I had something in my teeth, didn't I? I bet I did . . . No, I know I did! Oh my God, I've missed out on the firm of my life because I had something in my teeth!

Misery's Mom: It's alright, calm down. You are a wonderful boy and any firm would be lucky to have you!

Misery: Thanks, mom. But, but . . . I'm just so tired of being poor.

Misery's Mom: I know, hun, I know . . .

And I hang up, and I know, I hope . . . it will be alright.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

What Annoys Me Even More?


Especially co-tutors with egos.

Even more so lazy co-tutors with egos.

More than anything . . .

Co-tutors that make you want to quit tutoring all together.

I don't have time for this.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

What Annoys Me

Blogs are now a dime a dozen.

They are like armpits. Everyone has one but no one really cares to look at them. Some just absolutely stink but even the rosey-smelling armpits are still armpits.

“Hey, Opie, I’m not all that interested in what little demons your twisted mind has created,”

Begins to sound a lot like:

“Hey, Jim-bo, either trim up that hair or put on a shirt with some sleeves . . .”

Now, of course, there are great blogs out in cyberspace that are funny and/or insightful and definitely worth reading, present blog excluded . . .

But all I’m saying is this---

It annoys the ever-lovin’ crap out of me when people that hit the “Next Blog” button up there to the right and end up here then think it is perfectly fine to leave a comment on my latest post which is nothing more than an advertisement for their own blog.

I doubt they’ll ever even read my blog again.

This has happened twice in a row now. Really, this is a desperate, desperate cry for attention:



If you want to be blog-rolled, e-mail me or leave me a post asking me to do so. Do not use my comments to advertise your blog about “help for single mothers” or especially a blog about multi-level marketing. Especially multi-level marketing.

Pyramid schemes are a horrible idea. And if anyone gets a horrible idea from my blog, I want that idea to have been mine. Damn it!

Least of all, though, this is a blog about law school, about the law student life, about the law, and sometimes presents a general social commentary. So if you want to be blog-rolled, don’t waste my time or the time of my very few loyal readers.

I’d like to keep the ones I have now. Thank you.

And Good day.

Monday, September 12, 2005

OCI, Day One

I am absolutely exhausted. After a day full of interviews, the annual Law Review picture and the mandatory LR meeting that followed . . .

I do have stories to tell. I would love to tell about the jackass parking guy and his little power trip telling-off the entire Law Review . . .

But I can't now, I'm too tired. I'll tell them later.


I still owe you stories about the evacuees.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

OCI Anxiety

With each e-mail I receive notifying me that I've been "awarded an interview" with so-and-so firm from Dallas or Houston . . .

My anxiety grows.

Dean Career-Services told me, when I went over my resume-drop list with her, that, "if you don't get an interview with everyone of these firms, I'll buy you a coke."

Yeah? Well . . . good call so far, Dean.

But I think if I do get an interview with each of them, what I really need is for her to buy me something with a bit more kick.

Like, how bout I buy the Coke-- and she buys the rum to go in it.

Friday, September 09, 2005

My other favorite Federalist

Just so "Anonymous #2" of the comments on the last post will know-- she is STILL my other favorite Federalist.

Of course, that was-- once again-- my poor attempt at humour.

I just realized, however, I really ought to stop using the "F" word. Its become quite dirty lately.

Maybe I should come up with something creative to use instead . . . like you could be my other favorite--uhm--Smurf.

Sure, then we can just change our name to the Smurf Society.

Can you imagine how funny it would sound to have Ted Kennedy ask:

"Are you now or have you ever been a Smurf, Mr. Roberts?"

Thursday, September 08, 2005

More Law Review Excitement

I just found out my Comment Editor (hereinafter referred to as "CE") has discovered this lil blog 'o mine . . .

My other favorite Federalist ratted me out. Well, used to be other favorite Federalist . . .

Ha ha.

No, no . . . this just ups the ante. So I have to discard the tentative title. So what?! Now I can guarantee you every time she comes across a phrase in my comment that seems a little out of place, stilted . . .

I can just see her cruising the channels-- BET, MTV, Hip-Hop Top 40-- or at least it'd be fun to think that Ms. CE will show up one morning and I'll hear her in her carrel humming . . .

"I'll take you to the can-dee-shop, for one taste of what-I-got."

Hmm. Maybe not.

But I will have to broaden my horizon. I can go back in time just a bit.

"Hey, Mr. Supreme Court Justice . . . get up, get-get-get-get down, 911 is a joke in your town."

I will have to first make it publishable, of course. Otherwise I will just have 80+ pages of crap that I can read alone in my bedroom and laugh myself to sleep each night . . .

And I have this blog to serve that purpose. I mean, honestly, what is this blog besides a private little carnival continuously playing in my head.

What about the more serious and poignant blog posts? Those are just like trips through the "Hall of Oddities" tent.

But for the rest of you-- it is as I have said many times before, just more proof that law school makes you boring. So get over it.

On a serious & poignant note: Can anyone tell me how to post a sound clip on blogspot? I recorded one of the evacuees singing the other night and would love to share that with you soon as I have the chance.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Evacuees Have Arrived

I think in the time I have to spare over the next few weeks, I will spend some time posting on any experiences or work I have the opportunity to involve myself with regarding the Hurricane Katrina evacuees.

Saturday afternoon, as I sat lazily watching a Rodney Dangerfield movie, a call to help scrolled across the bottom of the screen. Lubbock was expecting 1000 evacuees by the end of the day and the Red Cross was in immediate need of food, snacks and blankets for our new guests.

I had planned on spending my long Labor Day weekend sleeping, working on my "shelf check" for Law Review and researching my student comment. Initially this action call did little to change my mind.

However, after laying there watching Rodney for a half-hour, a great tinge of guilt took hold. For nearly a week I'd talked to friends and relatives about the fact that "I wish I could do something . . . " And now there I was laying in bed watching a movie when there was "something" to be done.

So I got up, got dressed and we went to the Dollar Tree. After loading up on bottled water, individually packaged cookies and Spam, we hauled it over to the Red Cross offices. I never intended to become more involved, but as we were carrying our load back and forth to a truck, I asked if they needed "any more bodies."

Next thing I know, I'm filling out a volunteer application.

But they'd had enough volunteers. What they really needed were individuals with medical or counseling training/experience.

Again, guilt.

I could have ignored his question since my training only consisted of a couple classes in Preaching College. My experience was not that great, either.

Sunday morning I spent 2 hours going through the crash-course training session. An hour later, during lunch, I received a call that the first evacuees were arriving and they needed 7 volunteers to help with counseling.

I was so scared and nervous, my lunch came back up on me. My family in other parts tell me: "You are so lucky, you actually get to do something to help."

Yeah, lucky. You watch it on television and you give money and you pray . . .

But when actually called on with the expectations that you will be the person to listen to their stories, to hold them, to hug them, to cry with them, to attempt to reassure them . . . to renew their hope.

Lucky? I would've let anyone take my place.

But, then again, I was just so thankful I was not in their place . . .

So I showed up with my Bible in hand and after being bounced from area to area, I arrived at the Mental Health area -- where I was told I wasn't needed at the moment. So they had me fill out my credentials and availability.

In doing so, I wrote down "former-minister/law student." The guy next to me was a pastor. So he grabbed me and took me to join the clergy that was beginning to congregate.

As a group, and now a member of the "clergy," we were introduced to the Chapel that had been set up for this new city of displaced N'Oleanians.

We were told they'd been told they were going to Houston. They found out they would be living in Lubbock when they got off the plane. We were told some had died while the plane was en route. We were told they were tired, angry, and hopeless.

All I saw were smiles though.

I did not get to counsel that day. I spent six hours shaking hands, patting backs, and hugging people. I passed out "God Bless You"s and "Welcome to Lubbock"s and had each returned in kind, with smiles so big . . .

it breaks your heart. Mine, I can't hardly keep from crying right now.

So these people are now Lubbockites for awhile. They are our neighbors, our guests, our friends . . .

We are hoping to show them why the people of Lubbock are so great. We are hoping to restore some stability to their lives.

As I encounter them and hear their stories. As I have more stories of my own, I will share them here.

Maybe not so much for your benefit. I think, perhaps, its more for mine.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Making Law Review Exciting

The tentative title for my Law Review Student Comment:

"PUTTING THE CHILDREN IN CHARGE OF THE CANDY SHOP:" [subtitle deleted because it is boring and you could probably care less regardless.]

I came up with that during a conversation with Prof. FirstAmendment. He said, "its like having the fox guard the henhouse," at about the same time as I said, "its like putting the children in charge of the candy shop."

I liked mine better.

Then I came to realize . . . there is a game to be played here:

Within the title of my LR comment is a reference to a current rap song.

"Hmm," I wandered to myself.

(Not out loud, because I don't want to let anyone in on my little game just yet).

"Hmm," I wandered to myself. "I wander just how many vague references to rap songs I can work into my Law Review comment before it is done?"

Wouldn't that be an interesting little tidbit of information when I'm sitting on the Supreme Court someday:

"Did you know Justice Misery's first legal publication was intentionally imbedded throughout with vague references to rap songs contemporary to the time of its writing?"

We'll see if I can do it . . .
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